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Bells


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The ghosts made me a clapper in

their bell made from unearthly

material, ringing out the music

of my dreams. I dreamt I was inside

the dream of a fire beneath a tree,

as I blew on the flames ghosts arrived

throwing out names of those waiting to

die-they caught notes that grew and fell

from trees placing them in the eyes of the

newly buried. As I woke the old spirits

rang their bell which made no sound as

it swung through the dreams and memories

of the newly deceased, new spirits had

their eyes opened and they helped to ring

the bell. In the last dream I was chained to

a gate, diving melodies passing through

ghostly eyes in search of a heaven.

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David W. Parsley

Hi Barry, I particularly enjoyed the following lines:

 

The ghosts made me a clapper in

their bell ..., ringing out the music

of my dreams.

..., diving melodies passing through

ghostly eyes in search of a heaven.

The whole poem is highly original and haunting. IMO, it could use a healthy application of craftsmanship. Forgive me for being guilty of my own charge of saying the same thing over and over, but some of the repetitions come across as too much, if not downright careless: 5 occurrences of 'dream'; 3 occurrences of 'ghost'; 3 of 'eyes'; 3 of 'ring/rang'; 4 of 'bell.' Ghosts and dreams and eyes appear very frequently in your work, not just as concepts, but the actual words themselves. Feel free to tell me when are tired of hearing about it. :-)

 

Other than the disturbing repetitions, I like the way the poem sounds. Nice use of language and image.

 

Thanks,

- Dave

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  • 3 weeks later...
David W. Parsley

Hi Barry, I returned from an extended vacation today and decided to accept your invitation. I must emphasize that what I came up with, was not deeply considered and should be regarded as an exercise, not as a replacement for the poem you are creating. If you find something useful here, that's great, but the main objective is to illustrate some methods used by one poet (me) in the crafting and revision process. I'll share the result here and discuss what I'm doing afterward.

 

Bells (revision exercise)

 

Ghosts had made me a clapper in

their bell, ringing out the music

of my dreams. I dreamt deeper, now inside

the half-sleep rumination of a fire

beneath a tree, as I blew

on the flames more spirits arrived

throwing out names of those waiting to

die-they caught notes that grew and fell

from nearby branches shaking them

into the gape of the newly buried.

I woke to the old shades

continuing their work at the bell

it made no sound as it swung

through REM sleep journeys

of the newly deceased, wraiths freshly risen

with lids opened lending their hands

to that silent tolling. When the last

dream came I was chained to a gate,

watched diving melodies pass through

spectral eyes in search of a heaven.

 

 

What I did:

1. My first objective was to illustrate how one can eliminate a majority of repetitions in a poem. Wherever feasible, I replaced "ghost", "eyes", "bell", and "dream" with either synonyms or (preferable) verbs describing what these objects do. This challenge had the usual result of forcing originality of insight, most notably, "REM sleep journeys" in place of "dreams." That does not mean this phrase, however original and exciting to produce, is actually worth keeping once the revision has been slept on. But it does lead to fresh insights for poet and reader alike, whatever form that particular action takes in the piece.

 

I particularly like the use of "gape" in place of "eyes", with its more intensive power to suggest skulls or the stare of the recently expired - creepier, more vivid. The word also brings the more open "a" sound and the terminal clap of the concluding "p", at just the right fulcrum point in the poem. Again, this is the usual result of further pondering and working of a poem.

 

2. I also sought to improve the flow of the poem to my own liking, as I went. I did this because I could not help myself, but it also guided the selection of alternate descriptions and phrasings.

 

3. It also was natural to tighten the diction and phrasing, going so far as to remove an entire phrase, "made from unearthly material" as being redundant in this context and sapping energy with bloat.

 

I dashed off the revision and notes above in 1.5 hours. Not too much to ask of a round of polishing, but I do not think it is done yet. Still, I personally find this revision a step in the right direction.

 

I hope that none of the above "ruminations" offend in any way, but are actually of help.

 

Best Regards,

- Dave

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